Sending Me Angels (Sweet Lucy Records)
Kelly Richey

By Jim Conway

I would have to consider Kelly Richey one of our region's best-kept secrets, but with the release of her eighth album Sending Me Angels, the secret may not be safe anymore.

To the best of my memory, I can't think of a local, independent artist coming up with a more inspired recording of singing, playing and support from a network of musical talent she has obviously acquired since her days as a struggling Lexington-based blues player. To many, Richey's coming out locally was at the MERF benefit a few years back, when she caught the ear of legendary blues great Lonnie Mack, and matched him lick for lick in an onstage cutting contest.

Although currently based in Cincinnati, Richey traveled to Memphis to employ Grammy-winning producer John Snyder, as well as having songwriting collaborations with the likes of Delbert McClinton, and Little Feet/Pure Prairie League player Craig Fuller, among others. It's obvious Snyder pulled an incredible performance out of Richey, as she proves she can shake her money-maker with Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray or any other blues baby-boomer you'd care to mention.

There's really not enough room here to mention all the stellar cuts, but check out "Too Late," which melts the speakers with a nuclear wah-wah solo courtesy of Richey's Stratocaster and provides more vocal grit than the law should allow. "Nothin' To Do With Love," which is a great blues-fueled social comment on the state of society without being political, is reminiscent of songwriter J. L. Williams' past collaborations with Eric Clapton and should garner mucho independent radio airplay.  

Richey co-wrote "Angels From Heaven" with funk-rocker Gary "Muddbone" Cooper, and the result is three-plus minutes of concentrated guitar and vocal prowess. With this - and at least half a dozen other songs here - any remaining doubt that this lady can't hang with the boys of the blues genre should be put to rest. The listener should encourage the "establishment" (general terms, please) to start digging now.

But consider Kelly Richey's guitar playing and vocalization: she could probably make mediocre material sound decent, but with Sending Me Angels, there's no doubt she's got "A" level material and musical backing. The result is a CD that is truly a gift from the angels, via Memphis, Cincinnati or maybe even Lexington.